10 of football's weirdest postponements (ft. Pop Idol, sewers and a solar eclipse)

Jon Spurling

1. It’s all about mucking in at Kings Lynn

“We were told to stay at home and close all the windows,” a Kings Lynn player informed the Norfolk press in October 1937, after local officials ordered the postponement of the Linnets’ Eastern Counties League clash with nearby Gorleston the previous month.

The reason? A group of local farmers had been over-zealous with their muck spreading, leaving a noxious stench lingering in the air. “It would have been like playing football in a giant cesspit,” insisted the Kings Lynn manager. Sounds like an idea for late-night Channel 5.

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2. A song for Sweden

Keen to juggle both a football and a fledgling singing career, Irish midfielder Kevin Walker faced a dilemma when his scheduled appearance on Swedish Pop Idol clashed with Sundsvall’s Second Division meeting with Assyriska.

Fortunately for crooning Kev, TV4 owned the rights to both the football and the talent show and switched the October 2013 game. “TV can do whatever they damn well please in Sweden,” barked Assyriska’s furious manager. Walker was vindicated, though – he only went and won the competition, and now plays for top-flight side Djurgardens. Fantastisk!

3. Shoreham’s travelling problems

“We’re very nervous and angry about the situation,” tweeted Shoreham FC in August 2013 – but there was little they could do when a group of travellers set up home outside their Middle Road ground, causing the postponement of the Sussex County League Division One clash with Lingfield. “All my years playing football and this I’ve never had. Travellers take over the pitch,” tweeted ex-pro Jamie Lawrence.

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4. Total eclipse of the game

With Torquay due to host Portsmouth on August 11, 1999 in the League Cup first round, Devon police nudged the match back a week, deciding they didn’t have sufficient man power to cope with the game and the expected influx of visitors to witness the impending solar eclipse.

“A total eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” explained the local police chief. “It hasn’t happened since 1927.”

It was certainly more memorable than the rearranged 0-0 draw.

Solar eclipse

5. “That’s sh*t, and you know it is”

“Of course we couldn’t play football on that pitch,” blasted the irate Sport Huascar manager in January 1921. “There was pig faeces everywhere.”

The Peruvian lower-league clash with Saenz Penahad had to be put back a day when the marauding swine escaped froma local farm and ran amok across the pitch. “The players stank to high heaven thanks to all that shit,” squealed the same Huascar boss 24 hours later.

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6. Plenty of room on top

Usually when you flog the maximum number of tickets available for a football match, you down tools, stop selling and reach for the champagne.

Not Scottish Third Division side Elgin City, who managed to shift 1,100 tickets more than their ground’s 4,520 capacity for the November 2012 clash with Rangers, forcing a postponement on health and safety grounds. Too many names were on the list, and they weren’t coming in.

Borough Briggs

7. Show food poisoning the red card

Confusion reigned before a 1963 La Liga clash between Real Betis and Valencia, when a less-than-satisfactory pre-match snack made both the referee and a linesman violently sick.

With the unfortunate duo returning to the sanctity of the changing room throne, the reserve officials were summoned. They promptly got stuck in traffic and, with no officials present, it was match abandoned. “It’s a scandal… a national disgrace,” complained one irate supporter.

8. “Have you seen the leccy bill?”

Brigg Town

“Brigg Town Football Club bar and facilities are closed for the short term while we sort out electrical problems,” the club announced last month, after the adjournment of their Northern Counties East League clash with Athersley Recreation.

The principal problem – an unpaid bill dating back to 2010 – stood at a hefty £1,000, but chairman Simon Harris insisted: “We hope to have paid off our debts shortly. I’ve been bowled over by the generosity of people who’ve pledged donations.” It warms the cockles of your heart.

9. Down in the sewers

It’s good for the confidence to get an early home win under your belt at the beginning of a new season, but Liverpool had to wait until September 12 in 1987/88 before their first game at Anfield. The reason? A Victorian sewer beneath the Kop had collapsed and needed emergency repairs.

10. Explosive performance

In February 1985, temperatures around Bramall Lane hit freezing, but it was an unexploded Second World War bomb on a nearby building site which caused Sheffield United’s game with Oldham to be called off.

The three-day delay helped the Blades recover from an injury crisis, winning the rearranged match 2-0. “We started with a bang,” insisted manager Ian Porterfield.

This feature originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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